Changing the Culture

CSL_Culture2

The death of Ahaz and the crowning of Hezekiah marked a turning point for Judah, albeit temporary. Hezekiah rejected his father’s policies and priorities, rejecting Baal and turning instead to the LORD (2 Chr. 29:1-2). However, rather than adopting a quiet change of personal policy, Hezekiah publicly worked to change the entire social and spiritual culture of Judah. He insisted on the renovation and cleansing of the temple, confessing openly of the evil that had allowed it to follow into disrepair (2 Chr. 29:3-9). He committed himself to the restoration of worship as well, challenging the priests and the Levites to fulfill their roles according to the law, which they then found strength to do (2 Chr. 29:10-16). He took the lead in keeping the feast days as commanded by God, including not only the arrangement of the articles of the temple but the preparation and offering of the appropriate sacrifices (2 Chr. 29:17-24). He renewed the singing of praise in the temple after David’s design, which itself stirred their hearts anew with joy and reverence (2 Chr. 29:25-30). Moreover, he encouraged the people to contemplate their blessings and offer sacrifices accordingly (2 Chr. 29:31-35a). Thus, with faith in the LORD and zeal for truth, Hezekiah restored the proper order in the spiritual life of a nation (2 Chr. 29:35b), and he managed to do so fairly quickly because of his leadership and the willing hearts of the people who followed him (2 Chr. 29:36).

We sometimes look around in dismay at how suddenly the culture in which we live can deteriorate. In ways, we have trouble recognizing the country of our youth due to how much evil has entered popular culture. In some places, congregations of the Lord’s church face a similar problem. Indeed, even among those who consider themselves true to God’s book, compromises long ago have allowed behavior and practices which the New Testament does not condone. However, rather than sullenly accepting the inevitability of spiritual decline, we should find hope and inspiration in Hezekiah’s determination. Rather than quietly hiding our faces from the encroachment of sin and error, we should stand up boldly and give voice to the truth, positively challenging the people we know to release their grip on the culture of the world to embrace instead the culture of God Almighty (1 Jn. 2:15-17). It will take leadership. It will take a strong voice. It will take action. And it will take a people ready to obey. But we must no longer simply accept what we have inherited as sufficient. To the contrary, we must step forward to accept what God expects of us. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31).

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